How to lay instant lawn properly: Step by Step
By David Gordon – Baywide Dingos, Napier Hawkes Bay, NZ
Instant grass is nice. A year’s worth of hard work has gone into it already; weed spraying, fertilizing and mowing. It’s thick, lush and instant. There are disadvantages though. It’s not possible to get dead flat like you can with seeding or hydroseed because of the slight differences in thicknesses with the turf – in saying that you should be able to get it pretty good if you follow these steps.
Readylawn is instant grass that you roll out over bare dirt. It is the premium option for any home owner or developer. Care must be taken to ensure the highest possible finish & quality since the customer is expecting the best result.
ReadyLawns using a fine layer of good soil on top
This method is bullet pointed as below when importing nice screened soil for underneath the instant lawn. Note: Skill is required by the Dingo operator to ensure an even compaction of soil – otherwise when you wet the lawn it will be like a bowl of custard with the skin on top.
- Dingo operator to import dirt ‘fill’ and level to 70mm below the level of the intended lawn height
- Dingo operator will then level this fill material with the leveling bar.
- Rake into small piles all the loose debris and stones in the fill
- Get the Dingo operator to pick up all the piles of debris and place offsite
- Blow all the nibs free of stones and rubbish
- Dingo operator to place good topsoil on top of the fill material and in the garden areas (if any)
- Dingo operator to level lawn with level bar to 20mm below the intended lawn height
- Whilst waiting for Dingo to level lawn:
- Compact with feet and aluminium rake, all edges close to the house where the machine cant go. Take care to get this exact and hard.
- Rake the soil just leveled by machine, ready for instant grass. Compact ALL edges with aluminium rake taking care to get this perfect
- Blow all nibs again to ensure all dirt is off them (be aware of where the dust is going) so you don’t get mud and stones on your new turf.
Lawns using existing soil
This method is bullet pointed as below when using the existing soil/ground on site Note: Skill is required again by the Dingo operator to ensure an even compaction of soil – otherwise when you soak the lawn it will be like a bowl of custard with the skin on top. This method is not quite as good because using average soil it is harder to get an exact level because of the stones and spoil in it.
- Dingo operator to rotary hoe and level existing soil to the intended lawn height 20mm below level
- Rake the lawn removing all the loose debris and stones
- Get the Dingo operator to pick up all the piles of debris and place offsite
- Blow/sweep all the nibs free of stones and rubbish
- Compact with feet and aluminium rake, all the edges close to the house where the machine can’t
- Re-Rake the soil ready for instant grass. Compact ALL edges with aluminium rake once again taking care to get an even 20mm across the entire lawn
- Dingo operator to place topsoil in the garden areas (if any) before turf goes down
- Level garden soil with spade and tidy with narrow rake
Laying the Readylawn Turf
- Fill the fertilizer/seed spreader half full only with fertilizer (otherwise it will be too heavy for the wheels
- Set the dial for an appropriate rate of fertilizer
- Apply a generous covering of fertilizer to your pre-raked lawn
- Empty the remaining fertilizer back into the bag
- Determine the best point to start laying the turf from so that it maximizes the use of lawn and minimizes the cutting and waste. Usually this is where you can do the longest runs.
- Roll out each turf roll taking care to match the edges nicely, use a rake or kicking board to ensure no gaps are between each roll of turf
- Ensure you continue in the same direction ALL the time like mowing a lawn. Imagine laying bricks – you never want the joins in the same position each time
- Keep raking the soil you walk over to ensure the ground is level – important!
- Cut the turf with the butchers knives and sharpen periodically with the file or use gib saws work well since they never dull.
- Roll in with a heavy water filled roller and water in each sector of laid turf with sprinkler as you go to save time and so the turf does not dry out (especially important on hot days with large areas of turf)
- Wash off All nibs and Patios
The number one problem we see with instant turf is lack of water initially or the water not soaking in. It is really easy to fry the turf and have a pile of bacon strips instead of lush lawn. The key to a good lawn is sufficient water.
The best way to tell if it has been watered enough is to gently lift up a section of turf and check if the water has gone right through. If it hasn’t – keep soaking – don’t hand water – the patience of a sprinkler is always greater than your own patience.
Other than that, you can’t really over water turf unless it is in shady humid conditions where is could get disease. You need to keep watering heavily for about a week until it takes hold/root and then reduce the frequency to every other day as you would with a normal lawn.
Mowing promotes healthy growth. By mowing the lawn routinely and as regularly as possible encourages a healthier lawn. Mow your readylawn as soon as it starts growing – e.g. the lawn has started to stand up and grow well. You should stop watering the lawn for a few days to give the soil time to dry so the mower doesn’t sink in or clog up. It is important to only cut about 1/3 of the growth off at any one time, reducing the height gradually so as not to stunt any growth or shock the lawn too much. Maintain the height of 40mm for the 1st dozen cuts and then mow to the height you prefer. Be careful not to ‘scalp’ your lawn by mowing it too low. Some varieties of grass will handle a short cut but it is easier and more forgiving if you mow higher. It also helps to hide any undulations and holes more effectively. Mowing higher and regularly also naturally eliminates weeds.
Your lawn should have enough fertilizer to last 6-8weeks after the initial application. After that it will need another feed.
Use a Premium organic lawn fertilizer with slow release nitrogen to reduce the risk of burning the lawn. The exact NPK rating required will depend on your soil type. As a rule of thumb, buying in bulk is a lot cheaper than your local Mitre 10, but we do offer a DIY mix that has a blend of slow release & boost which will last a while. Ideally you should look to fertilize your lawn at least 3 times a year, early spring, early summer and early autumn. This will help your lawn be healthy and strong throughout the tougher seasons.
The great thing about instant grass is that there has been a year of care gone into the turf before you start so the need for weed control shouldn’t arise for quite some time. The first defense against weeds is to keep the lawn healthy using the above guidelines. It can be tempting to mow your lawn very low to eliminate those clover flowers and other common weeds that pop up. But by doing this you are encouraging other weeds to take over the lawn very quickly – e.g. Prickles! They can dominate lawn grasses and eventually reduce the quality of the lawn if they are not kept under control. General products available at Mitre 10 like Turfix are good for most common broadleaf weeds and clover and you don’t need a Gro-cert to buy or apply. It gets tricky with other stubborn weeds like couch, paspalum and summer grasses which need to be sprayed in crucial time windows to control them. Even clover can be hard to eliminate without the use of a hormonal herbicide such as Tordon. These products are only available to certified sprayers, are expensive to buy and will kill your roses if you don’t know what you are doing. We offer a selective herbicide and fertilize package if you prefer to leave it to the experts.
If you would like us to maintain your lawn or have any questions, feel free to give us a call on 0800 234 442